Titanic launch 100th anniversary marked in Belfast

 

Children cheered to re-enact the moment the ship was launched 100 years ago

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A religious service has taken place in Belfast to mark the 100th anniversary of the launch of the ill-fated Titanic.

The ship entered Belfast Lough on 31 May 1911 from Harland & Wolff, then the largest shipyard in the world.

During the service, a flare was set off at 1213 BST, the exact time of the launch a century on.

The event, described as a celebration, took place on the very slipway from which Titanic left the shipyard.

'Our shame'

It was led by Reverend Chris Bennett, chaplain of Belfast's Titanic Quarter development on the site of the former Harland & Wolff docklands.

The congregation heard music from two choirs who were involved in the life of the shipyards, as well as observing a moment of silence in remembrance of the 1,517 people who lost their lives on the ship's disastrous maiden voyage.

The passenger liner sank after hitting an iceberg en route from Southampton to New York in April 1912.

Speaking before the service, Mr Bennett said he was keen to ensure that celebration was the dominant mood at the event.

Once the flare was released at 1213 BST, he led 62 seconds of cheers, to mark the 62 seconds it took for Titanic to slide from its dry dock and into the Irish sea.

Mr Bennett said: "For the last 100 years Titanic has often not been mentioned. It's been our shame, our secret.

"We've almost had a hundred-year moment of silence, so really we're trying to rediscover the pride today."

'Remarkable story'
RMS Titanic The ill-fated RMS Titanic was built at the famous Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast

Titanic took three years to build and was the largest moving man-made object on earth at the time.

More recently £7bn has been invested in Belfast's Titanic Quarter and an interactive visitor centre is due to open in 2012.

An exhibition about the Titanic will also open on Tuesday at the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum.

The exhibition will feature more than 500 original artefacts, and will include an outdoor interactive re-creation of a Titanic-era street.

Niall Gibbons, chief executive of Tourism Ireland, said: "No ship has gripped the world's imagination like RMS Titanic.

"Her remarkable story begins at her birthplace in Belfast, and we highly recommend visitors to Belfast to discover the story of her creation through this exhibition."

 

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